Monthly roundup – April 2022

Another month, another collage. Lots of great poetry, horror, and bizarro. Didn’t expect to love the dragons as much as I did, but here I am starting the sixth book. I don’t know what it is about Ruby Dixon, but her books make me feel good. Even the ones about the end of humanity as we know it. Skipped over Wheel of Time again. Maybe May is the month for volume 3.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Fire in His Spirit, by Ruby Dixon
Not a Lot of Reasons to Sing, but Enough, by Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre
Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament, by S. G. Browne
The Tower, by William Pauley III
There Are Trans People Here, by H. Melt
On My Way to Liberation, by H. Melt
Talia, by Daniel J. Volpe
White Fuzz, by William Pauley III

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Plenitude, by Daniel Sarah Karasik
Annabel Lee, by Edgar Allan Poe
Fire in His Kiss, by Ruby Dixon
Fire in His Embrace, by Ruby Dixon
Fire in His Fury, by Ruby Dixon

⭐️⭐️⭐️:
The Wives, by Tarryn Fisher
Pest, by Matt Shaw

⭐️⭐️:
Mixed Feelings, by Abraham Rodriguez
Run Rose Run, by Dolly Parton and James Patterson

On the agenda for May is the third Wheel of Time book (once again), more dragons, more horror. My TBR is overflowing and grows larger with every book deal newsletter that graces my inbox. I have a couple of book club reads and a handful of NetGalley ARCs to get to this month. Maybe I’ll even get to those library books that I keep extending.

I read a book: NOT A LOT OF REASONS TO SING, BUT ENOUGH, by Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre

Guante’s poetry takes me back to that one time I went to the Nueva Onda cafe with my friends many years ago. One friend was active in the local poetry community, and while I did want to be supportive, I know I did a poor job of it. There was a big slam poetry presence there and it didn’t speak to me. I didn’t get it so I wrote it off. My relationship with poetry has changed over the years and while I still mostly consume it in its written form, I find my self loving spoken word and slam more and more.

When I told my friend that I’d received an ARC of this book from NetGalley, his response was that he was just looking at it on Button Poetry’s website. I was already loving this book, but I found my friend’s response encouraging and continued on.

This collection of poems sets out to redefine your view of what poetry is and assures you that you don’t have to like poetry, and that maybe poetry just isn’t what you’ve been taught. Poetry doesn’t have to pretentious romantic rhymes. Anyone can enjoy it or write it. Or not.

Not a Lot of Reasons to Sing, but Enough tells a story through the memories of a robot recovered from a post-apocalyptic world. The format is unique and beautiful and a delight to read. I found myself rereading several passages and coming back to the illustrations that punctuate the collection over and over again. Guante hits on a lot of topic near and dear to my heart without being super direct and preachy. I’ll be buying a copy for my shelf, and if you are even remotely interested in poetry, you should too.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. Read this book. Do it.

You can buy a signed copy of Guante’s latest book NOT A LOT OF REASONS TO SING, BUT ENOUGH directly from the publisher Button Poetry. If you love his style and want to learn from him, check out his Button University Workshop.

Compartment C – Depression and insomnia

It’s the middle of the night and I find myself getting upset over something stupid. Tears level of upset. Sad. Dejected.

Rejected.

But it’s in my head. Nothing happened to make me feel that way. It’s not logical. It makes no sense. And yet…

And yet the tears fall like rain, the sound drowned out by the thunderstorm that shakes my walls. But like the lightning that accompanies the thunder, the feeling is gone with a flash of light in the dark.

Sleep does not come easy. Again. Ever.

I read a book: Bloodletting, by J. R. Curtis

I received an Audible code for a review copy of J. R. Curtis’s book Bloodletting from the author last week. He offered review codes in one of my favorite book groups on Facebook and I happily requested one. I looked up the kindle version, as I like to read along with audiobooks, and found that I already owned it. Good sign! I found the premise of this book interesting enough to have acquired it twice! And so I read my first western themed horror novel.

The story begins with the description of a handcart company starting their journey and getting caught in a blizzard. Winter is harsh, and the group is in desperate need of food and supplies. Three men take on the task of traveling ahead to an old army fort to find help. The journey is long and difficult, and they find themselves overcoming the obstacles of weather and hostiles to get to their destination. I won’t give away any spoilers, but I was on the edge of my seat as one thing after another attacked them. Poor Caleb…that kid just couldn’t get a break! The three travelers make it to their destination, only to find the fort completely empty. This is where the story goes from survival story to an otherworldly tale of horror. As the title implies, it is graphic and bloody.

Come to think of it, none of them can seem to catch a break. We learn all about each of their tragic backgrounds as they try to survive in the abandoned fort.

There is a lot I loved about this book. The whole concept of western horror scratched an itch I didn’t know I had. The writing is descriptive in a way that makes the reader really feel the cold, isolation, terror, and despair. There is nowhere for our travelers to run, and that feeling is conveyed effectively. The audiobook narration was really good. Slow enough that even though I increased the playback speed quite a bit, it didn’t sound like chipmunks. And the narrator had just the right voice for this type of story. It had that same atmospheric feel that I got from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

That said, I feel like this book could have benefited from a little more time in editing. It gets repetitive at times. The dialog feels unnatural. But overall, it’s a good book.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 3.5 rounded up for star rating. I’ll definitely be reading more of Curtis’s work.

You can find Curtis’s books available on Amazon, Kindle Unlimited, and Audible. Borrow Bloodletting on KU or just buy it like I did!

I read a book: Mixed Feelings, by Abraham Rodriguez

Poetry is difficult to review. Poetry is emotion put to the page. How do you judge how someone expresses emotion? In the end, you don’t. Well, I don’t. I am not a poet, nor am I fully versed on the intricacies of poetry, so I don’t rate on a technical level. Poetry is as good as the emotion it elicits.

Unfortunately the emotions this collection of poetry elicits from me are mostly cringe. I try to find something positive to say about every book that I review, especially when I’ve received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for that review, but this one is proving to be a challenge. Rodriguez pours his heart out on the page in the form of poems and photos much like the example above. The poetry is reminiscent the words scrawled in a teenager’s journal with me + you scrawled in the margins over and over again. It brings up memories of scrolling through my LiveJournal feed back in the day. There are black and white photos throughout the collection, most are of a young man doing couple things on his own. Grabbing his own belt loop. Clawing at his own back. Photos of oranges. Squeezing them, biting them, gnawing on strips of peel. The whole thing is amateurish and unrefined.

But you know what, Rodriguez really put himself out there and that is admirable. The only way to get good at something is to be bad at something and keep doing it until you hit your stride. This is his first book and it does hold little glimmers of potential.

There are a couple instances where he takes a poem and writes it in English and Spanish in opposite directions. It is a format I find myself drawn to, even if the poem itself is not great. I am not fluent enough in Spanish to recognize if it is more impactful in Spanish. These dual lingual poems are my favorites of this book.

All that said, it feels like that first heartbreak when your emotions are all over the place because you haven’t learned how to cope yet.

⭐️⭐️. It’s okay. There is an audience for this, but I’m not it.

Mixed Feelings, by Abraham Rodriguez will be released on May 3. You can preorder on Amazon or any major retailer.

Compartment B – Feeling and not feeling

Do you like me?
Well I hope you do
Cause if you like me
Then I think I’m gonna to have to like you too

I’ve never been a particularly romantic person. I don’t watch chick flicks. I don’t read chick lit. Typical non-smutty romance novels can be entertaining, but I’m not getting warm fuzzies from them.

I get my warm fuzzies and emo tears from so many Futurama episodes. From that one episode of My Name is Earl when Earl figures out that Joy and Randy are each others’ first loves. From books about aliens who like to eat pussy and dote on their human lovers. From hair bands. From poems about Mountain Dew commercials. Memes. Pictures of Fry and Leela couples tattoos.

I don’t know if there is a point to this post. I have been in a mood for a while now. Feeling things, not feeling things. Writing, editing, deleting. Crying. I don’t know how to deal with myself other than writing, editing, and deleting. And leaving some of my compartments safely tucked away in my drafts folder so no one else has to deal with me either.

I read a book: Talia, by Daniel Volpe

Never was there a more appropriate intro to a book.

I chose Talia, by Daniel Volpe for Book Lovers Cafe‘s second Cool Ghouls read. My little book club has garnered some attention in the group, but if any of the people who sign up are reading the books, I have no idea because they’re not participating in discussion. I will keep at it though. I am determined to share my love of horror and bizarro to anyone who will listen.

I take it back. At least one person read it. They were not prepared.

I read Talia in one sitting. At 120 pages, I suppose that isn’t saying much, but for me it is. If a story isn’t immediately gripping, my attention wanders. Talia grips you by the throat and assaults your senses non-stop. This is the story of a young woman who moves to the big city trying to make a name for herself. She quickly learns that it is not easy to break through in the acting world and finds herself targeted by a sleazy adult filmmaker named Mike who can smell desperation. Talia has heard the rumors about this guy, rumors that he works for the mob and does more than porn, but she is in a tough spot and is willing to do what it takes to make some money.

At first, it isn’t so bad. She does some fetish films that get increasingly strange, but she makes friends with one of her costars and mostly hasn’t had to do anything too degrading. What’s a little piss in the grand scheme of things anyway? Rumors about Mike’s clientele prove to be true as the requests get stranger and more brutal. One day, Talia and her friend come in to do a film find themselves facing a tied and gagged man and a table containing whips of increasing levels of brutality. Is this just another pain fetish video? Is Talia built for the kind of films Mike has lined up? Is Mike prepared to face the monster he created?

I discovered (after reading Talia), that our heroine was introduced in Volpe’s earlier work, Billy Silver. Of course I have to read that now.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. Daniel Volpe, I see you.

You can find Volpe’s books available on Amazon, Kindle Unlimited, and Godless. Borrow Talia on KU or just buy it! A cover like that will look great on your bookshelf.

I read a book: Plenitude, by Daniel Sarah Karasik

April is National Poetry Month. Poetry is part of my regular reading, but since it is a time of recognition, I will be doing reviews of both ARCs and other books on my shelf. First up, an ARC I received via NetGalley, Plenitude, by Daniel Sarah Karasik.

When I pick up a book by an author I have not read before, the first thing I do is Google them. Karasik is the author of five other books, including plays, poetry, and short stories. Five! How fortunate for me that there is a back catalog to read now that I’ve had a taste of their work.

This collection of poetry is a demonstration of how so many different issues intersect and overlap. Karasik tackles not only sexuality and gender, but human rights, Palestine. It’s personal and political. It’s the kind of poetry that you read and reread because there are just so many layers to unpack.

This one is for the folks who don’t understand what it means to be trans in the current political climate. It’s for the ones who are actively trying to be better allies. It’s for the trans people looking for representation and understanding. It’s for the people who think that it’s not for them.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 3.5 rounded up for star rating.

Sample some of their poetry on their website and then get your copy of Plenitude, by Daniel Sarah Karasik on April 7.

I read a book: White Fuzz, by William Pauley III

It started with a friend request on Goodreads. I don’t accept every author friend request. I look at their profiles, I google them, I read their websites and their book reviews. According to his bio, William Pauley III writes sci-fi/horror/bizarre fiction and that was enough for me to accept the friend request and add a couple books to my TBR. Doom fiction? Count me in.

I’ve watched his name come up on my Goodreads feed for about a month now. William Pauley III is now friends with Hugh Mann. William Pauley III likes Hugh Mann’s status. William Pauley III wants to read Another Weird Book. This is not criticism of how active he is on Goodreads. It is merely an description of how that portrait of a shaggy haired man with his head tilted upward, pouty lips, eyes closed, one side of his face dripping with blood got into my head and led me back to his website. There I found Audible codes and YouTube links, making my decision of where to start easier.

Because I’m on a novella kick and because I’m a sucker for good cover art, I chose White Fuzz. It’s the story of a man who gets a text from a stranger, goes to her home, and proceeds to have the weirdest night of his life. My gears were turning early in the story, as I had just read Pest, by Matt Shaw and the premise of a guy meeting a strange woman in her home after one text interaction was feeling a bit familiar. That’s where the similarities between the two stories ends though. Pauley’s story starts out almost a cute rom-com with our two main characters teasing each other on the phone before Franklin decides, against his better judgement, to pay this mystery woman a visit. While things seem to be going well, Franklin notices a lot of strange things about the apartment and about his new lady friend. The apartment is filthy, permeated with the smell of mold, death, and cat. Lynda’s mood changes from flirty and a little awkward to a range of anger and sadness at the drop of a hat. Franklin’s shifting in emotional state is similar, but internal. Franklin didn’t know what he was getting himself into and neither did I. As I’ve come to expect from the genre, White Fuzz leaves you with that wtf did I just read feeling. The story is well written and the audiobook is actually really good. Perfectly cast narrator.

Relatable

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. William Pauley III is on my radar now.

You can read White Fuzz as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription. Or just buy the book. The eBook is only a couple bucks and the print version would look great on your shelf.